Polishing Off 2022

Edited by Andrew Leber

A non-systematically-compiled of thought-provoking left/progressive foreign policy writing and conversations over the course of 2022. No doubt there’s plenty we’ve missed — for a fun end-of-the-year exercise, tell us what we should have included on the platform of your choice (or leave a comment below). See you all on the other side of the calendar!

Places & Policies

David Klion. “What Should the Left Do About China?The Nation, January 2022

  • A deep reporting dive into left/progressive policy ideas for US relations with China.

Kate Alexander. “A Case for Unfreezing Afghanistan’s Assets,” Inkstick Media, April 2022

  • On the Biden administration’s failure to confront the impact of financial sanctions on the people of Afghanistan, and what supporting Afghan girls and women would truly look like in U.S. foreign policy.

“Biden’s New Counterterrorism Policy Guidance,” Just Security, October 2022

  • A collection of five reactions to the (still secret) Presidential Policy Memorandum on counterterrorism, and the ways that the memo risks further entrenching the less-visible aspects of the forever war. Including:
    • Oona Hathaway on the lack of transparency and the absence of Congressional oversight in US counterterrorism policy
    • Luke Hartig on the ways that the memo keeps Global War on Terror administrative machinery up and running for some future Presidency 
    • Brianna Rosen on what it would actually take to end the forever war

Kate Kizer. “Did Anyone Notice The US Military Bombed Somalia?” Inkstick Media, November 2022

  • A case study of U.S. military involvement in Somalia, and how narrow definitions of “warfare” help conceal U.S. participation in conflicts around the world.

Carol Schaeffer. “How the West Failed Bosnia,” The Nation, December 2022

  • On the ways that 1990s-era conflict resolution and neoliberal reconstruction have served to freeze conflicts rather than resolve them in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Foreign Policy from the Left

Aziz Rana. “Left Internationalism in the Heart of Empire,” Dissent, May 23, 2022

  • Rana argues for a left internationalism built around anti-imperialism – including carefully circumscribed defensive military assistance to countries like Ukraine – and anti-authoritarianism. His argument for transnational power-building on the left (building support for global labor-rights, decriminalizing the border, and scaling back security spending) drew a series of seven responses (though hopefully can do a bit better on gender parity for the next collection!). 

Daniel Bessner. “Empire Burlesque: What Comes After the American Century?Harper’s, July 2022

  • Contemplating the American Century and the prospects for a Global Century to come, as well as the future of the U.S.-China relationship in frameworks of liberal internationalism versus restraint.

Stephen Wertheim. “The Crisis in Progressive Foreign Policy: How the Left Can Adapt to an Age of Great-Power Rivalry,” Foreign Affairs, August 24, 2022

  • On the various strands of thinking in “progressive foreign policy” and what lies ahead for them.

Van Jackson. “Left of Liberal Internationalism: Grand Strategies within Progressive Foreign Policy Thought,” Security Studies, October 2022

  • A scholarly treatment of major themes within progressive “grand strategies” for the United States (writeup by Kelsey Atherton for the Critical State newsletter here).

Replacing the War on Terror” with Alexandra Stark & “Shrinking America’s Military Footprint” with Becca Wasser, Order from Ashes podcast, December 2022

  • The Century Foundation is hosting a new progressive foreign policy series within its Order from Ashes podcast (hosted by Thanassis Cambanis). In the first two episodes, Alexandra Stark discusses incorporating accountability and development as an alternative to a military-first counterterrorism policy, while Becca Wasser outlines how U.S. foreign policy might start to wind down the country’s vast global network of military bases–particularly in the Middle East & North Africa.

Oversight & Organizing

Laicie Heeley, “Congress & Foreign Policy,” Things That Go Boom Season 6, Inkstick Media, October 2022.

  • The ever-valuable Things That Go Boom podcast series kicked off 2022 with a look at the role of Congress in foreign policy, the ways that the imperial presidency has clawed ever-more foreign-policy authority from the legislative branch, and what might change this state of affairs.

Volodymir Artiukh. “US-plaining is not enough. To the Western left, on your and our mistakes,” Commons, March 2022

  • An open letter from a Ukrainian anthropologist of post-Soviet labor and migration to the US left (writ large) regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine (subsequent interview with Jacobin available here).

Alex Thurston. “Crisis of Conscience,” Foreign Exchanges, March 2022

  • A review of the recent work of the International Crisis Group, concerned that the organization has less and less to offer in terms of specific policy proposals due to an unwillingness to directly criticize U.S. policy.

Katherine Yon Ebright. “Secret War,” Brennan Center for Justice, November 2022

  • On the security cooperation programs that risk dragging U.S. military forces into local conflicts, and how Congress can act to make sure that the Department of Defense cannot keep these “episodic” or “irregular” conflicts shrouded in secrecy.

Noah Coburn and Peter Gill. “Uncompensated Allies: How Contracting Companies And U.S. Government Agencies Failed Third-Country Nationals In Afghanistan,” Costs of War, Brown University, December 2022.

  • How labor abuses in the War in Afghanistan stand to roll over into new conflict zones–and how actual enforcement of the U.S. Defense Base Act might secure foreign workers’ rights.

“National Defense Authorization Act NDAA for Fiscal Year 2023,” Just Security, December 2022

  • A collection of articles on the 2023 NDAA and what it means for U.S. foreign policy.
    • Brian Finucane and Heather Brandon-Smith on the missed opportunities of this year’s NDAA
    • John Ramming Chappell on new mandates from Congress to the DoD for reporting on civilian harm, albeit with little effort to address past harms in U.S. wars abroad
    • Ari Tolany on the failure to incorporate meaningful oversight for U.S. security assistance abroad

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